O’Connor’s shock lifeline in World Cup bid

THE James O'Connor fairytale is gathering momentum with a sudden invitation to join the Wallabies in South Africa as part-replacement for Marika Koroibete.

Winger Koroibete stayed behind in Melbourne for the imminent arrival of his second child when the Wallabies flew out to Johannesburg last Sunday for the Test against South Africa on July 20.

Inside centre O'Connor will become a train-on squad member in Johannesburg so his career as a Wallaby has not yet been rebooted for the first time in six years.

The fine print of O'Connor's deal to play with the Queensland Reds is being finalised and a formal announcement is expected this week.

Backrower David Pocock will also join O'Connor on the flight to South Africa as he continues his recovery from a tricky, long-term calf injury.

"Marika should join us later in the week but mother nature is in charge here so until then it's a good opportunity for James to integrate into the team playing principles," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said.

Marika Koroibete will remain in Australia for the birth of his child. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Marika Koroibete will remain in Australia for the birth of his child. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

"For David, we really want to do some specific rehab work with him and it's just better to have him with us at this stage to ensure we get his return to play exactly right."

O'Connor's sharpness for two training days at the squad's Brisbane camp last week accelerated his call-up.

Cheika is using this first week in Johannesburg as a training camp to tune his World Cup aspirants and O'Connor's mere presence suggests he has joined the picture.

News Corp Australia


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